Faced with the threat of extinction in a very particular way of knowing how to do things, even though many people take it as something imperishable, there is an urgent need for a publication.
This is, perhaps, the biggest concern of Associação da Calçada Portuguesa, responsible for organizing the next themed tour of the Artéria project dedicated to the city of Lisbon, to take place on the morning (10 am) of October 15, a Saturday, and for which readers of PÚBLICO can register for free (via email to [email protected], with the subject “Passeio Calçada Portuguesa”), up to a maximum of 25 people. It will be an opportunity to get to know one of the most idiosyncratic brands of national culture and, in particular, of the Portuguese capital.
“The paving of sidewalks is not a Portuguese invention, there are local places, but the specific way in which we do it, with techniques and those used, in an artisanal work, and in the context in which it is inserted, is something that in the materials”, he explains. António Miranda, member of the association and historian of the staff of the Lisbon City Council, who establishes the seventh guided tour of the Artéria – community journalism project dedicated to the city, produced by PÚBLICO in partnership with Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa. It is this knowledge, from which, in addition to paving the public space, results a certain idea of Portuguese historical and cultural identity, which the script intends to be relevant.
“The Ground We Walk”
Starting at Praça do Município, the walking route, which will take approximately two hours, will take you along Rua Nova do Almada, Rua Garrett, Largo do Chiado, Largo Camões, Rua do Alecrim, Rua das Flores and Praça do Duque da Terceira, at the Cais from Sodré. The final stage will be, after crossing Avenida 24 de Julho, Praça de São Paulo.
“It will be a circuit made in the central area of the city, in which we will get to know some of the patterns of ornamentation of the floor that we walk on, as well as some of the different techniques used in it”, explains António Miranda, highlighting the term in Largo de São Paulo, for to be “one of the few sidewalks that has arrived almost intact to our days”. Apart from lightness, it is in the same state in which it was built, in 1850, in the image of my model before Rossio, a year before Rossio.
The paving of the most important square in the Portuguese capital served as a mold for much of what followed, establishing itself almost as a foundational moment.
“That intervention had a very big impact at the time. The pattern used has a particularity of dynamic suggestions, it seems that the floor is moving, always in motion. The perception changes according to the position we are in, from the angle of view”, highlights the historian, referring to the design of the floor of that street, known as Mar Largo. So named for requests for wave patterns, through the use of alternating rows of white limestone and black basalt stones. Materials that define much of what the Portuguese image has been – although they were left in disuse until they were available.
The offer, however, is not restricted to black basalt. The growing lack of Portuguese sidewalk, felt mainly in the last sidewalks, now threatens the very essence of the master of the Portuguese sidewalk execution – often confused with the “Portuguese sidewalk”, a difference that will be clarified during the tour. “We are losing the old masters and there are no paintings. We risk, in the short term, not having someone who knows how to do it”, regrets António Miranda, echoing a concern that has increased and, above all, is related to the difficulties of recruiting for a profession of patience and great physical demand. A transmission of knowledge accumulated over decades is therefore at risk.
Ensuring that it doesn’t happen is the main mission of Associação da Calçada Portuguesa, founded in several associated entities as 2017, among them the city council of the capital. Responsible for the inscription of the art and know-how of the Portuguese pavement in the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage, in 2021, the institution has been working on the candidacy for the Heritage of Humanity (UNESCO).
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